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Coronavirus crisis: 70 drugs up for testing

Each of those viral proteins must be able to latch onto the necessary human proteins for the process to work
In this March 11, 2020, photo, a worker from a disaster recovery team peers out a window in Kirkland, Washington.

Carl Zimmer/New York Times News Service   |   New York   |   Published 23.03.20, 09:11 PM

Nearly 70 drugs and experimental compounds may be effective in treating the coronavirus, a team of researchers reported on Sunday night.

Some of the medications are already used to treat other diseases, and repurposing them to treat Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, may be faster than trying to invent a new antiviral from scratch, the scientists said.

The list of drug candidates appeared in a study published on the web site bioRxiv. The researchers have submitted the paper to a journal for publication. To come up with the list, hundreds of researchers embarked on an unusual study of the genes of the coronavirus, also called Sars-CoV-2.

To infect a lung cell, the coronavirus must insert its genes, co-opting the cell’s own genetic machinery. The cell begins to produce viral proteins, which are used to produce millions of new viruses.

Each of those viral proteins must be able to latch onto the necessary human proteins for the process to work.

In the new study, the scientists investigated 26 of the coronavirus’s 29 genes, which direct production of the viral proteins. The researchers found 332 human proteins targeted by the coronavirus.

Some viral proteins seemed to target just one human protein; other viral proteins are capable of targeting a dozen human cellular proteins.

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